Happy New Year!
So…how many of you made New Year’s Resolutions – hands up! Right…now, how many of you are still following them? Oh…yes, well, that’s to be expected.
Every year, I vow to lose weight, drink less, do more, get out with friends, be more organized…the list goes on. Most years I make it until about mid-January and then slowly everything starts to weaken…and I’m back to where I started, angry at myself for failing and then I wind up making things twice as hard for myself because if I’ve failed, I’m going to do it with a vengeance.
Which ultimately means I eat too much, drink too much, slob out on the couch, ignore everyone and find myself looking for my bankcard at the bottom of my purse (because there is no way in HELL I’ll have put it back where it should go).
Just prior to Christmas, I had a (as my father would have put it) a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with my landlord. I’ve been wanting to purchase my condo for a long time, but kept putting off attacking the mountain of personal debt I’ve accumulated in about the past 9 years. She’s given me until the middle of the year to prove that I AM working on it and if she’s happy with the results, she will bend over backwards to assist me with the purchase – WAY above and beyond what a normal landlord would ever do. Our meeting was extremely intense; not since my father died have I had such a conversation about my debt and my addiction to self indulgence.
Which started after my dad died. I just put that together. Interesting.
I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my dad was everything – dad, best friend, mentor – I admit, I was definitely daddy’s girl. He did everything for me – got the oil changed in my car, bailed me out of stupid monetary decisions – the stuff most dads do. I never panicked – or paid much attention to things, because I knew dad always had my back. I’m embarrassed to admit that he helped me out financially WAY too many times.
My dad died suddenly in February 2005. It hit me like a fucking sledgehammer. If you were to ask me what the rest of the year looked like, I can’t tell you because I was in a complete fog. My sister and I had to start caring for our extremely needy mother, who made our lives a living hell. I had lost my dad, my best friend and my support. My safety net, as it were.
That’s when things started getting ugly. I started drinking too much, spending too much – EVERYTHING was too much. I didn’t care, nor did I think of the ramifications of my actions. It made me feel better. It stopped the hurt. I started spending like I had an unlimited trunk full of cash. I didn’t buy big things; it was the little things – $40 here for a new shirt, $25 here for groceries and I’m not even going to get into how much I’ve spent on wine over the years (that in itself is embarrassing). Maxed out more credit cards than I can count. Managed to get myself back on track by paying them off, only to get myself back into trouble – time and time again.
I just didn’t care…I didn’t stop to think that all those little purchases added up to one big, hefty bill. Oh, I made payments regularly and was always very conscious about doing that, but it was all peripheral; it never entered into my mind that I was paying 13%, 15% or 17% and throwing a few hundred at it each month wasn’t getting me anywhere. I was managing it and I didn’t have debt collectors after me and it was all good. Carry on!
After my mother died in 2010, there was a small inheritance left to me and I used most of it to pay off debt. Yay! A credit card with a zero balance! Whoo! I can start spending again!
Just before Christmas I got extremely sick and have only just started feeling marginally human again. I had a lot of time to just sit and ponder things…when one day, I had what I like to call – a jelly donut moment. A jelly donut moment is when you stick your finger in the middle of the donut and watch everything ooze out the sides and top. Basically – my psyche started oozing, but with that came clarity – a sense of calmness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I realized that for the past 9 years, I’ve been obsessively self indulgent. I bought things because I wanted them RIGHT NOW and I drank too much because it made me forget all of my problems – but, I deserved it – didn’t I?
No. Well, maybe. My point is that all of the money I’ve spent, all of the wine I’ve drunk didn’t replace my dad – it only created a different dependency. A dependency on being self indulgent. ‘Poor me, I’ve had a bad day, I should go look at shoes.’
So, tucked at home in my jammies on New Year’s Eve, with some cold medicine and Netflix – I made a different resolution. This is the year that I become less self indulgent. I’m going to take care of myself by eating better, getting a bit more exercise and by not drinking. I’m going to think before I spend. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be absolutely 100% ‘perfect’ – but what it means for me, is that those moments of self indulgence are going to be the exception, rather than the rule. Because I deserve it – don’t I?